What Austin’s multifamily property owners need to know about new recycling requirements

The recycling requirements for multifamily communities in Austin are changing later this year. Starting Oct. 1, 2020, the City of Austin will require all multifamily properties, including apartments, condominiums, and assisted living facilities, to provide their residents and employees access to: 

  • 24 gallons of recycling per unit per week or;
  • Equal capacity for recycling and landfill trash. An example of equal capacity is a property has the same size and number of dumpsters for landfill trash as recycling and that the dumpsters are picked up the same number of times each week. 

Why are the requirements changing? 

In October 2019, Austin’s city council voted to increase recycling requirements for multifamily communities. The change will help Austin reach its Zero Waste goal of keeping at least 90% of discarded materials out of the landfill by 2040. Over 30 percent of Austin residents live in affected multifamily communities of five or more units. 

“The City of Austin wants to ensure residents living in apartments and condos have the same access to recycling that residents living in single family homes have,” says Ken Snipes, director of the City of Austin’s Austin Resource Recovery. “By increasing the amount of recycling that’s available to all Austinites, we are keeping reusable resources out of our landfills and supporting our Zero Waste goal.”

How will residents living in multifamily communities be informed of changes?

The City of Austin requires owners and managers to inform their residents and employees within 30 days of making changes to their recycling, within 30 days of move in, and every year after. Educating residents and employees is a good way to make the most of new recycling services. Resources like fliers, template emails, and interior signs are available to help with required ongoing education and signage.

When do the new requirements take effect? 

All multifamily property owners and managers must be in compliance with the new recycling capacity requirements no later than Oct. 1, 2020. The City of Austin recommends multifamily property owners and managers start the process early, as it may take time to modify recycling services. 

Who is responsible? 

All multifamily properties with five or more units serviced by a private licensed hauler are affected.

They are responsible for:

  1. Meeting the new capacity requirements by Oct. 1, 2020.
  2. Ensuring new recycling containers are within 25 feet of landfill trash containers. 
  3. Ensuring that all trash and recycling containers have proper signage. Licensed haulers are also responsible for signage.
  4. Educating their residents and employees about any substantive changes to their recycling service.

How can multifamily properties get help?

The City of Austin has resources to help multifamily property owners and managers meet the new capacity requirements including:

  1. A capacity calculator to determine if they need to contact their licensed hauler to increase recycling at their property.
  2. Multifamily rebates (up to $1,800) to increase their recycling capacity early. Eligible expenses include up to six months of recycling service. It can also be used towards a concrete slab or an enclosure to house the exterior recycling dumpsters. The rebate application period ends July 15.